Aryna Sabalenka has claimed the 2023 Australian Open title with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. The 24-year-old Sabalenka captured her first career grand slam with the victory after making the US Open semifinal each of the past two seasons and the Wimbledon semifinals in 2021.
Sabalenka has now won 11 matches in a row. She has been dominant this year as she reached the semifinal round without losing a single set, and had won 20 consecutive sets heading into her first major final.
After taking the first set, Rybakina couldn't hold on in the back-and-forth match but was able to save championship point three times in the final set a deuce before a forehand sailed long to clinch the championship for Sabalenka.
The two hour and 28 minute seesaw battle saw huge hitting throughout from both players with Sabalenka outpacing Rybakina in winners (51-31) and aces (17-9). Both players also won 71 percent of their first serve points.
"I want to [say] congrats to Elena for an incredible two weeks. You're such a great player and of course we're going to have many more finals...hopefully in the finals of a Grand Slam," Sabalenka said after the match of her opponent, who took home her first Grand Slam singles title last year at Wimbledon.
2023 is now the eighth consecutive season were there has been a first-time Grand Slam singles winner in the WTA, and four of the past eight Slams -- Barbora Krejcokova 2021 French Open, Emma Raducanu 2021 US Open, Rybaknia 2022 Wimbledon and Sabalenka 2023 Australian Open -- have been captured by first-time Grand Slam champions.
Sabalenka will move up three spots in the WTA rankings to match her career-high ranking of No. 2 -- which she reached on Aug. 23, 2021.
While the Belarus-born player competed individually and without a national flag because of Australian Open rules established after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sabalenka did become the second Belarusian player to win s singles Grand Slam championship, following two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka (2012, 2013) who lost to Rybakina in the semifinals at the Australian Open in 2023.
Sabalenka has now won four out of the five matches in her all-time series against Rybakina. Their only other meeting at a Grand Slam had been in in the Round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2021.
The top players on the WTA tour head to the Middle East next for the WTA 500 Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, WTA 500 Qatar TotalEnergies Open and WTA 1000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Grand Slam season resumes in